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Brownback Resisting 'Fetal Heartbeat' Abortion Measure

Gov. Sam Brownback and Republican legislative leaders are resisting a group's effort to include an "fetal heartbeat" abortion measure on the agenda for legislators in September.

Gov. Brownback is calling lawmakers into special session on September 3 to rewrite the state's "Hard 50" criminal sentencing law.

Wichita-based group Kansas Coalition for Life wants legislators to consider its bill as well. The measure would require doctors to check for a fetal heartbeat before terminating a pregnancy. It would ban abortions if a heartbeat were detected, except in medical emergencies. A heartbeat can be detected as early as the sixth week of pregnancy.

Influential Statehouse lobby group Kansans for Life is worried that enacting a fetal heartbeat ban would cause courts to undo limits on abortion and providers. Thirty-two House members sponsored the fetal heartbeat legislation during this year's regular legislative session, which ended in June.

Both chambers have anti-abortion supermajorities, yet the coalition's proposal didn't get a vote in a House committee during the session.

Federal judges have blocked the enforcement of a fetal heartbeat law in North Dakota, as well as another statute in Arkansas banning most abortions 12 weeks into pregnancy.

Abortion-rights supporters plan to monitor this fall's special session.

Peter Brownlie with Planned Parenthood of Kansas and Mid-Missouri says a fetal heartbeat law would fall in a legal challenge.